Holding hands with spouse reduces anxiety

Pupil reactivity – an indicator of stress – was lower in study participants who held the hand of a spouse while completing a test

Holding hands

Scientists have used pupil reactivity to measure the impact of spousal support on an individual’s stress response while completing a challenging task.

The research, which was published in PLOS One, involved 80 couples completing a task either alone or while holding the hand of a spouse.

Scientists found that study participants who were holding their spouse’s hand had less pupil reactivity than those who completed the task alone.

They note that because of the speed with which stress-buffering occurs pupillometry could be a good method to assess the “immediate dampening effects” of social support.

“Overall, these findings support prior research that physical touch from a supportive spouse during situations of acute stress can attenuate physiological reactivity,” the authors highlighted.

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